Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – moving towards e-learning delivery


Our first webinar for 2013 was a Serendipity unconference session – recorded here. The topic chosen by poll from ideas posted on the whiteboard was that of:

  • moving an organisation towards e-learning delivery of courses: organisational change strategies.

This is a topic that recurs periodically – and each time we talk about it there are different ideas and insights shared helping us all to consider what we might do to move our own organisations in the direction of e-learning whether this is part of our formal role or because it is our passion.

The Session

We started with a blank whiteboard headed with the topic title for ideas about strategies. This wasn’t blank for long as we all had many ideas about encouraging change.

The whiteboard remained central to the session with ideas added throughout the session.

The whiteboard gives only a flavour of the ideas and discussion. These were expanded upon in both text chat and audio and included:

  • more depth on some of the strategies and how they have worked in practice for participants
  • a brief mention of models for change and technology acceptance.

To get the full picture check out the recording, then add your own ideas and suggestions as comments on this post.


This was a terrific session! The time flew by, and as always when we discuss organisational change there were many ideas flowing. This was a session that could probably have gone on much longer with more in depth exploration of strategies and their practical implementation and also  closer look at the models for change and technology acceptance.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is a FineFocus session. Join Phil Hart (@philhart) for “E-portfolios – a personal journey” in which Phil will share his experience of developing e-portfolios to provide complete evidence for Recognition of Prior Learning in higher level vocational qualifications. Join us on Thursday Jan 10th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning Jan 11th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.



Tweeting the word to the world from #ere2011


Just over a week ago I spent three days attending an awesome online conference “e-learning a Realit-e”. The Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework) has been holding these conferences online twice a year for a number of years. The focus is primarily on the vocational education and training (VET) sector although the innovative projects showcased are relevant across all sectors.

I have been a regular attender at the Framework’s online conferences ever since they began and have seen them grow from having only a few people registered (mostly from the South Eastern corner of Australia) in the early days to this most recent conference with nearly 1,000 registered participants. These events are the highlights of my professional development each year. Because they are online through Elluminate they offer great opportunities to network, ask questions and discuss the presentations through the text chat as they happen. Over the years the sessions have become increasingly participative and interactive as people become more familiar with the virtual room platform and its tools, and also with other ways of including interaction in an online context. We were even sent away from the final session with Sue Hickton with a challenge to use QRcodes (demonstrated in her session) in a competition published on her blog – the prize for the winner is chocolate! Visit Sue’s blog/ and enter the competition if you were at “e-learning a Realit-e” or if you didn’t attend visit the blog and find out how you can vote for your choice of winner.

Tweeting from conferences – why do it?

Since I joined Twitter about three years ago I have tweeted intermittently during various online conferences, including the Framework ones. I was so excited to be asked by the conference organisers to tweet “officially” from this one using the hashtag #ere2011. During the three days I sent around 450 tweets of around 20 words each (like doing a 9,000 paper in three days!), and was retweeted or favourited about 150 times.

Extracts from my #ere2011 Tweets TwwetCloudResize

You may ask why tweet from a conference at all? In my opinion the main reasons from the conference organisers’ perspective and that of the presenters are:

  1. Raises the profile of the conference and presenters thus encouraging people to register and join sessions. this is probably more pertinent when the conference is online, free and unlimited in numbers, as people can register and join throughout.
  2. Providing a skeletal summary of sessions as they happen – from personal experience I have found this useful when others have tweeted from conferences. I have accessed links, proceedings and/or recordings of conference sessions (both live and online) that I have not attended purely on the basis of interest generated by tweets about the sessions.

From the tweeter’s perspective (at least when that tweeter is me) there are several reasons for tweeting from online conferences:

  1. Doing those instant encapsulations is a fantastic strategy for internalising the information and learning from the sessions.
  2. It is a way of putting something in that might be useful for my PLN – I often feel I am always taking information out but don’t put much back.
  3. Save the tweets and I have a summary of the conference including many of the links.
  4. The saved tweets also provide evidence of active participation in professional development activities, although this is not yet recognised as part of a PD record in my current context I think it is only a matter of time.


There are certainly challenges in tweeting live from a conference!

  • Actively participating and networking at the detail level through Elluminate text chat while simultaneously summarising the broader view for the Twitter backchannel poses interesting issues not least of which was typing in the right box!
  • Continuing to tweet while also taking part when the presenter includes a high degree of interaction such as frequent polling or whiteboard activities is also a challenge.
  • Remembering to tweet when the topic was of particularly absorbing interest to me (as with disengaged youth and Twitter) was also difficult.
  • My tweeting fingers felt as though they ran red-hot at times, unsurprising with 58,000 characters over 3 days (not all typed I hasten to add – links & hashtags were usually copy/pasted)
  • Getting it right – names, content, quotes! It is instant and not easily rescinded if you make a big mistake.

What made it easier than it might have been

  • My familiarity with Elluminate – I use it all the time in my teaching context and in the weekly webinars
  • The capacity in Elluminate to set up the screen view to suit my own preferences eg I always work with a large text chat box in Elluminate – this helps me avoid missing what people say in text
  • Having two screens so I was able to have everything easily visible at the same time
  • Having the Elluminate room, the conference programme and Tweetdeck all open and visible on my screens at the same time enabled me to copy/paste some text rather than typing

Will I do it again?

The answer is a resounding YES! I enjoyed it immensely and got so much from the experience. I was exhilarated if somewhat exhaused at the end of the three days. There was just so much buzzing around in my head that it has taken me until now to blog about the experience of tweeting so much from one conference.

E-ntertain, e-ngage, e-ducate?


I was thinking yesterday about a recent event where I found myself standing up for 25 minutes in front of a potentially negative audience of colleagues. My brief was to give them a look at what is “out there” in terms of future online/e-learning possibilties that might be significant for them.

The contemplation was triggered in part by elements of a long conversation between myself @mgraffin and @philhart when we met for lunch in Perth yesterday. As seems inevitable when “e” minded educators meet we touched upon the issue of encouraging our emphatically non “e”, non tech colleagues to at least explore the possiblities and dip a toe in the water.

Consequences of Shyness

Later on when Phil and myself were cooking dinner we returned to the theme and diversified into some of the underlying personality traits, ideas and strategies that inform how we interact with students and colleagues. As a child and teenager I was paralysingly shy, would rarely speak in any group situation, and always hid at the back. However I also took part regularly in school drama productions! I found I could do this by adopting a different persona, in a way I was standing outside myself and becoming consciously an entertainer. The shyness is still there especially when I meet face-to-face with new people although I can now mask it fairly well. It fascinates me that I am far less shy in my online persona particularly on Twitter and in Elluminate. There are many possible reasons for this that I should talk about another time.


The tendency to stand outside and watch myself has carried over into my role as an educator. I think that one of the reasons that I am not generally good at reflecting in writing after an event is because I am constantly operating a very short duration reflective cycle during a class or immediately afterwards. This is especially so with respect to “critical incidents” so by the time I get near a keyboard (trying to handwrite reflections kills them stone dead for me) and have time to write everything has already happened in my head so writing it seems unnecessary.

Educator as Entertainer?

Anyway enough of these digressions, Phil and myself were discussing how we work with students in different contexts. As an illustration of the way I adopt a different persona I talked about the recent two day professional development forum for lecturers in my organisation. In my experience across a number of organisations both here in Western Australia and formerly in the UK these sorts of events are generally disliked for various reasons including: information overload; the time taken; and the fact that not all of the sessions will be relevant or interesting to everyone. So to be asked to speak almost at the end of the two days about a topic that is certainly not “dear to the hearts” of many of my colleagues was a daunting prospect.

I decided right from the start that whatever I did: had to be fast-paced but also conversational in style; had in some way to entertain as well as to engage; and also had to have some degree of interactivity. Being up on stage with a microphone and data projector is not the ideal situation for generating engagement or including interactivity but it can provide opportunities to entertain! Because several colleagues expressed an interest in the slides and links I had used within them I have uploaded them to Slideshare.

I work in vocational education albeit as a literacy/numeracy educator. Because of the context the vocationl skills of my colleagues are very highly valued and constantly updated so in my session I tried to draw a parallel between this and the need to have comparable skills in the teaching strategies and e-tools that suit the needs of our 21st Century learners. I also raised the issue that while we try to make learning as flexible as possible for our students using numerous blends often customised for the individual our own professional development is still tending to follow the old model of all sit in a room together and listen to speakers talking about subjects often chosen by others not ourselves. Developing and accessing a PLN, attending webinars and blogging about educator related topics are easily recorded and tracked these days so there is no reason why these shouldn’t form part of our recognised professional development. The session generated some interest from colleagues as several have arranged to catch up with me next term and talk about some of the possibilites for some of the “e” strategies in their own teaching areas.


When I consider how I work with my regular students I think it is critical to try and engage them but it is less important to entertain them. However when I am trying to bring colleagues on board with something new being entertaining becomes vital in order to generate a positive memory of the message.

Edublogs webinar overview – Conferences are a’changing


In this Edublogs Fine Focus session (recording here) We took a look at the way conferences have changed/are changing and the pros and cons of  the tradional compared to the new style for participants. This topic was triggered by the number of virtual conferences I have participated in as attendee or presenter this year compared with the fact that I have attended no face-to-face ones at all.

The Session
We started with a look at our own perceptions of what constitutes a “new” style conference in comparison to what typifies the “old” style conference.


We also did a quick poll on what sort of conferences (if any) we had attended this year. After sharing our various understandings of old and new style conferences. We moved on to consider what we felt were the advantages and disadvantages of each. This provided food for thought and certainly raised a couple of advantages of the traditional style that hadn’t occurred to me. Personally I love virtual conferences as they allow me to “conference” in comfort from home & make it much easier for me to attend global events.


This session was very active as everyone had lots of ideas about new and old style conferences. For the full “flavour” catch the recording. On a personal basis I’m not sure I did a very good facilitation job on this Fine Focus, I didn’t have much time to prepare and was also a bit distracted by the fact that I was due to present at the online Global Education Conference #globaled10 an hour after the end of the session. Of which I will be posting soon.

Next Week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session, one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic of the day. If you want to propose a topic in advance then visit the Serendipity Wallwisher and add your topic. Then join us on Thursday Nov 25th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (6pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday Nov 26th at 1am CEST, 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

In the Future

If you are a regular visitor to our webinars you will know that we alternate “Fine Focus” sessions on specific topics with “Serendipity” the unconference sessions where we choose a topic by poll at the start of the session. Sometimes the very fact of being asked for “hot topics” or other ideas for discussion or learning tends to make our minds blank. This has prompted me to start a Serendipity Wallwisher for topic suggestions. Please visit the wall and add your ideas for Serendipity topics so that we have more choices to consider. Some of these ideas might also form the basis for future “Fine Focus” sessions.